Everyone has to do business in their own way.
Maybe it's because I'm so wrapped up in the zine world that I think how we do things makes so much sense. I like the simple cover letter and story routine.
Don't get me wrong. I think a query is good for a writer to write, and a synopsis will tell you more about your own book than you ever thought you wanted to know. For instance, writing a synopsis before you write the book makes things a little easier along the way. I know--what about pantzers? I'm a pantzer. But I write a synopsis before I write the book. At least knowing some of what happens can get me thinking on why, which leads to strong characterization.
And then I never look at it again. But it's still a valuable exercize.
If I were an editor or agent, I'd be stuck on reading pages. I appreciate the agents who want them. I know they are inundated. (One said they get 25 queries a day and I actually didn't think that was so many. My husband routinely processes 100 emails a day). I realize that reading queries is right up there with dusting the office for most agents. That's the main reason why if things aren't being done electronically, then it puts a quirk in my consideration. Bottom line, you can buy enough email storage to hold a library of books. If I were an agent I'd ask for a decent cover letter and a full. I'd simply read until it lost my interest. If it holds me and I've got an idea of where to place it, they're in. It's how I read things for the zine. Is this us? Does this fit with the stories we've got or have seen? Does this fit with what's out there right now? Is it different, and how, while still maintaining a place in the current market? And yeah, I've turned down solid stories because they didn't fit us or resonate with me. I accept the subjective element of it.
Looking at websites has been interesting. I like when a site gives me the same sort of feeling about an agent as they expect query to give them about my book. A few of them I just like. They seem like people I'd like to meet, share some beers and rehash the industry with. But so many of the websites feel incidental, and this I don't like. It's a new century, and even my husband, the CTO, thinks I'm fairly technical. Also, a lot of the websites are much more aimed at the query process, and if I were represented by them, I'd want my name and my books up there, dammit. Maybe editors really don't look at websites much, but they oughta be.
All this said, there must be some connection between a decent query and a book. I wrote a query for Hinterland when I was about half-way though, just for fun. It didn't look anything like it looks now, but it was my first real inkling that there might be something to my book. I'm jotting notes for a query for the new WIP, tentatively called Exile.
Incidently, I've seen quite a few subject and verb clauses separated by commas on agent websites. I just caught one on Publisher's Marketplace. It's really bugging me.